All you need to know about Private Channels in Microsoft Teams

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Private Channels in Microsoft Teams are now rolling out and will start appearing over the coming weeks – there are going to be some happy people – private channels is the most popular request over on User Voice.

For those that aren’t aware, Private Channels are channels that only specific members within a team can see and participate in. Use them to focus collaboration among your project team – without the burden of creating an additional team to manage.

Private channels support all users including guests, but these users need to belong to the parent team. You can add up to 30 Private Channels in a team, and have 250 users in each. Private channels maintain their own settings independent of the parent team.

A team owner can see all Private Channels in the team and can delete them, but cannot access them unless they are a member. A team member only sees the Private Channels they’ve been added to.

Creating a Private Channel

During the standard team creation process you can now select “Private” under the Privacy section:

Just like when creating a Team, you can add users during the creation process:

Private Channels are shown with a padlock as seen below:

In the top right of a Private Channel there is a quick way to manage team members. You also get the “Channel” icon that indicates channel level security (standard channels show “Team” to indicate Team level security):

Managing a Private Channel

Team members can be managed under “Manage Channel”:

Settings for Private Channels are also available in the same location:

Team owners can control whether or not private channels will be allowed on a per team basis. Team owners can check/un-check the ability for members to be able to create their own private channels within a team, provided the user is also enabled to create private channels (see above setting). You can access these settings from “Manage team” -> “Settings”:

Private Channel Apps

I noticed that there are only a limited number of apps for a private channel. Hopefully the list will expand as other apps support private channels:

Under the hood

In order to maintain the security of a private channel, a dedicated SharePoint site collection is created. Below you can see the site collection that is created when the team is created. Every channel has a folder within the Documents library:

When you create a private channel an new site collection is created named <Team>-<Channel>:

Something I don’t like is that documents are not stored at the root of the Documents library. Instead, you’ll find them in a folder named after the channel as you would a non-private channel. Given that there will only ever be a single channel within this site collection, I’d like to see this behavior changed. Here’s what it looks like:

Administration

Creating private channels will be turned on for all users by default but can be controlled using the TeamsChannelsPolicy:

You can also configure this in the Teams admin center:

When looking at Teams from the Admin Center, private channels are indicated under the “Type” column. Currently you cant create a private channel from Admin Center:

Wrapping things up

Look out for private channels in a tenant near you. They should show up in most tenants over the next few weeks. Let me know what you think.

Check out the official documentation here:

 

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